Just because there’s snow on the ground in Iowa doesn’t mean the drought is over. Experts at the National Drought Mitigation Center are keeping a close eye on conditions across the Midwest this winter. Center spokesman Mark Svoboda says dry weather still plagues the region’s producers who desperately need to feed livestock. “Pasture, range and forage for livestock producers all across the heartland here and they’re coming off already two pretty bad summers especially in the Southern plains and there has been no chance for that pasture and range to recover and there hasn’t been precipitation to do that,” Svoboda says. “That doesn’t just pop right back in a couple of weeks. That can take years to recover.”
It’s still too early to know if the drought will continue well into 2013 but Svoboda says there are already some foreboding signs. “We’re not running with an abundance of precipitation over the fall period so that’s strike one,” Svoboda says. “Then you look at snow. Last year was a low snowpack year that fed the Missouri basin which feeds into the Mississippi. We had low snowpack across the Great Lakes where levels are very low, almost historically low, which feeds into the Mississippi. That was strike two, and so far this year, we’re seeing a repeat of that in a lot of ways.”
There has been a good amount of snowfall already this winter in some northern states, but he says we’ll need a lot of rain this spring or we’ll likely have a repeat of last year. Svoboda says the lack of snowfall for a second consecutive year will cause a lot of problems for some farmers, like wheat producers. “You want that snow not just for moisture but for insulating that crop, helping with emergence,” Svoboda says. “Back in the fall, we didn’t get a lot of widespread good rains to help with the emergence, so we had a lot of exposed soil that was blowing around in the fall, that was still a concern. Because of the lack of forage, they were bailing a lot of the cornstalks to get forage and feed. Without that on the field, you have less stuff to capture that snow when it does fall.”
A federal report last week found more than 60-percent of the country is still under drought conditions, including all of Iowa. That report also said it would take a total of eight-feet of snow this winter to overcome the drought by spring. The National Drought Mitigation Center is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Here’s the Freese-Notis (podcast) weather forecast for the KJAN listening area, and weather data for Atlantic…
(INCLUDING THE CITY OF ATLANTIC) 333 AM CST MON JAN 14 2013
TODAY…PARTLY SUNNY. HIGH IN THE MID 20S. WEST WIND NEAR 10 MPH.
TONIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOW 10 TO 15. SOUTHWEST WIND NEAR 5 MPH.
TUESDAY…PARTLY SUNNY. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. SOUTHWEST WIND 5 TO 15 MPH.
TUESDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOW IN THE LOWER 20S. SOUTHWEST WIND 5 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 25 MPH.
WEDNESDAY…PARTLY SUNNY. WARMER. HIGH IN THE MID 40S. WEST WIND 10 TO 15 MPH.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOW IN THE LOWER 20S. HIGH IN THE UPPER 30S.
FRIDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGH IN THE MID 40S. LOW IN THE LOWER 20S.
Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 23. Wind chill values as low as 5. Windy, with a west northwest wind 16 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.
Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10. Wind chill values as low as -5. Blustery, with a northwest wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 19. Wind chill values as low as -5. West northwest wind 8 to 14 mph.
Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 11. West wind 3 to 7 mph.
Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 27. West southwest wind 3 to 8 mph.
Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 15.
Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 34.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its final crop report for 2012, showing heavy losses due to the drought still gripping much of the nation. The year-end report shows farmers got less than three-fourths of the corn the agency initially expected when planting was done in the spring. The report released Friday shows a harvest of 10.78 billion bushels of corn, 27 percent less than the 14.8 billion bushels anticipated before drought set in.
The number in the final report is slightly more than the agency’s December estimate of 10.72 billion bushels and still marks one of the largest corn harvests in U.S. history. Farmers say better crop technology saved them from more devastating losses, and production was helped by the large number of acres planted this year.
The (podcast) Freese-Notis forecast for Atlantic & the KJAN listening area, and weather data for Atlantic….
The (podcast) Freese-Notis forecast for Atlantic, and the KJAN listening area, and weather data for Atlantic….
The (podcast) Freese-Notis forecast for the KJAN listening area and weather data for Atlantic…
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker is reporting 2012 was Iowa’s third hottest year on record. The statewide average temperature through the year was 51.9 degrees. That was 3.8 degrees above normal, but just over one-degree cooler than 1931, the hottest year ever in Iowa. Nationally, government meteorologists say 2012 was the hottest year on record in the United States with an average temperature of just over 55 degrees. In addition to the heat, Iowa and nearly two-thirds of the country endured a summer-long drought.
Hillaker says 2012 was Iowa’s 19th driest year in 140 years of record keeping. The statewide average precipitation last year was 26.31 inches, nearly 9 inches below normal. The record for Iowa’s driest year was set in 1910 at 19.98 inches of precipitation. Farmers and others who desperately needed rain last summer may find it hard to believe 2012 was only the 19th driest in state history. But, Hillaker notes above normal precipitation was recorded statewide in the months of February, April, October and December. July, meanwhile, was extremely dry and hot.
Hillaker says it the 5th driest July in Iowa history (1st-1936) and the month trailed only 1936 and 1901 for the hottest July in state history. The month of March was the warmest ever, 51.1 degrees on average, besting the previous record set in March 1910 by nearly two-and-a-half degrees. There was yet another unusual weather statistic in Iowa in 2012. You might call it a silver lining of the drought – as there were very few tornadoes.
Hillaker says there were only 16 confirmed tornadoes in Iowa last year and they all happened before the end of May. “Which is pretty amazing considering June is usually our busiest tornado month of the year,” Hillaker said. “That 16 annual total for tornadoes is, at least, our lowest since 1963.” Iowa averages 47 tornadoes per year. A record 120 tornadoes touched down in Iowa is 2004.